PROVO — Elder David A. Bednar urged members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to use social media to flood the earth with gospel messages.
“What has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning — but only a small trickle,” said Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during BYU Education Week on Tuesday. “I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth — messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy — and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.”
Speaking to thousands gathered in the BYU Marriott Center, Elder Bednar addressed the crowd in front of giant screens, using multi-media messages in his presentation. He said Latter-day Saints today are blessed to live, learn and serve in this dispensation of time.
“An important aspect of the fulness that is available to us in this special season is a miraculous progression of innovations and inventions that have enabled and accelerated the work of salvation: from trains to telegraphs to radios to automobiles to airplanes to telephones to transistors to televisions to computers to satellite transmissions to the Internet — and to an almost endless list of technologies and tools that bless our lives,” he explained. “All of these advancements are part of the Lord hastening His work in the latter days.”
Messages and pictures that used to require days, weeks, and months to send and receive now can be communicated around the world in seconds, said Elder Bednar. Social media is evolving in and playing an increasingly important role in hastening the work of salvation, he acknowledged.
Speaking of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest — and other such channels used by tens of millions of people — Elder Bednar declared it is no coincidence that these powerful communication innovations and inventions are occurring in the dispensation of the fulness of times.
“I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and much more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father and His plan of happiness for His children, of His Son Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, to proclaim the reality of the restoration of the gospel in the latter days, and to accomplish the Lord’s work,” he said.
Elder Bednar shared several examples of gospel messages and images that have been created by the LDS Church and by its members and communicated to the world through social media, including: the church’s Easter message “Because of Him;” the church-sponsored the social media effort “Did You Think To Pray;” the Instagram effort “Book of Mormon 365,” and General Authority social media accounts. In addition, he said, many church leaders now have their own Twitter accounts and Facebook pages on which they communicate important gospel messages.
Elder Bednar related a final example of gospel content that can be shared through social media channels — the church’s new film entitled “Meet the Mormons.”
“A few years ago, the First Presidency approved the production of a feature-length film to help those not of our faith better understand Latter-day Saints as a people,” he said, noting the film was originally scheduled to be shown in the Legacy Theater in Salt Lake City. “However, with the growth of the social media technologies we have discussed today, we realized that worldwide distribution of the film was now possible through various digital channels.”
Elder Bednar explained that “Meet the Mormons” addresses common misperceptions about LDS beliefs and highlights the blessings that come from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. The film will be released after October general conference in several media and channels — first in select theaters in the United States and, later, in visitors’ centers and on television, Internet movie channels and social media channels.
Elder Bednar indicated the examples of church and member-generated content illustrate several basic guidelines that should be followed as Latter-day Saints use social media to convey gospel messages.
1. Be authentic and consistent. “A person or product that is not authentic is false, fake and fraudulent. Our messages should be truthful, honest and accurate.”
2. Edify and Uplift. “We and our messages should seek to edify and uplift rather than argue, debate, condemn, or belittle.”
3. Respect Intellectual Property. “We and our messages should respect the property of other people and organizations.”
4. Be Wise and Vigilant. “We should remember that the Internet never forgets. Anything you communicate through a social media channel indeed will live forever.”
Elder Bednar also warned that “too much time can be wasted, too many relationships can be harmed or destroyed, and precious patterns of righteousness can be disrupted when technology is used improperly.”
Elder Bednar indicated the examples of gospel messages he shared represent an excellent beginning — but only a beginning. He asked members to “sweep the earth” as with a flood with messages filled with righteousness and truth.
“Try to imagine the impact we can have as hundreds of thousands and millions of members of the Lord’s restored church contribute in seemingly small ways to the rising floodwaters. May our many small, individual efforts produce a steady rainfall of righteousness and truth that gradually swells a multitude of streams and rivers —and ultimately becomes a flood that sweeps the earth.”